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Telling my family a long kept secret.

(25 Posts)
AutumnDreams Thu 31-Jan-13 00:40:58

Chips, I salute your courage in doing what you are doing. In situations of this nature the victim always knows when it is "their" time to spill out all the stuff that has been poisoning their life for so long. Be prepared to find your parents raction perhaps not quite what you want immediately. I think you may also find emotions coming to the fore that perhaps you won`t expect, not least anger. Anger from you, for the little girl - you, your inner child - left to struggle through a nightmare at far too young an age. These feelings will be built in to all the other emotions that will be flying around. Stand tall. ask for what you need fom your parents, but if it doesn`t happen immediately, don`t lose faith. You`ve been processing this for several months, with professionals, and had your brothers support. Your family has believed it all to be dead and buried, and may need some time to get over the shock....or they could contine to dig their head in the sand. I hope that doesn`t happen. Either way, I promise you will start to feel a little better once it`s all been said.

One other concern I had was, if the perpetrator is/was a close family member some people might make waves and see this as an insult to his memory. Nowt so queer as folk. I`m sure you will be able to handle that with dignity, if it happens.

You have reached a crossroads in the counselling process, and the time has now come for it to be brought out into the open, for the sake of your future happiness. Be brave, and I promise that eventually only good will come from it, even of it`s not as immediate as you would like. I send you much love, and remember, you have done nothing wrong.

DontEvenThinkAboutIt Wed 30-Jan-13 23:40:32

I have no experience in this but would it help if you worked out what you want your parents to do or how you want them to react and then tell them inthe letter. Otherwise, that might be clueless about how to deal with it.

Whatever happens I really hope everything goes OK. I can't imagine what you have gone through.

MyHeadWasInTheSandNowNot Wed 30-Jan-13 23:33:21

I hope it goes OK for you and they are able to give you the support now that they couldn't then... but I'm glad you have your DH, your brother & your counsellor to hold you hand once you've told your parents.

Greenoes Wed 30-Jan-13 23:26:16

Hi Chips

I really feel for you.
I suffered prolonged sexual abuse as a child too. My abuser was a close family member who abused myself and my sister and at least one of our friends for as long as I remember until I was about 10. When our friend confided in her sister, we were forced into telling our parents - we expected a massive reaction and fallout which, quite frankly never came. Our parents stopped unsupervised contact with our abuser but NEVER confronted him. I understood their reasons at the time - it was at a time when there was much publicity about children being removed from their parents by SS even if it was not the parents who were carrying out the abuse and they were scared that would happen to us. The abuse stopped, but nothing else changed. I felt as though it had been swept under the carpet and it was never mentioned. Myself and my sister were still involved closely in our abuser's life right until his death in his old age. I felt that my Mum was disappointed in me for not attending the funeral but it was the first time that I felt that I could rebel against what was expected of me.
Many years have passed and our difficulties are very rarely (I could count on 1 hand) been mentioned or acknowledged. I remember one time in particular when my sister was going for some gynae investigations at the hospital and our Mum was very confused at how distressed my sister had become during a very invasive procedure - when I mentioned that it was hardly surprising, she was horrified "do you think it might be to do with that?!?" - erm, yes!!
Anyway, during my adult life - I have been in relationships where I have felt it was time to explain away my hang-ups and fears with the truth (I felt as though I would feel free if the truth was out there). I have told my story 4 times to the men who I have had serious relationships with - 2 of these men interrupted during my story and asked if I was going to beak the news that I am really a man (I am not), one was not really affected by what I had said, and one pretended to have "known" due to the in depth (and totally fictitious) police training he had had.
1 of my female friends knows what happened to me (not the details, just that I was abused) but not my closest friends - I feel that telling them couldn't make us any closer.
I had counselling following the discovery of the OW during my marriage - although this helped at the time, I can't help feeling that apart from me (and my sister) no one actually gives a shit what happened to us.
So, I think what I am trying to say is - don't let it ruin your sanity if the massive reaction you are expecting doesn't happen. It can't possibly affect those around you as much as it affects you (possibly on a daily basis).
It is part if who you are, part of your life story, but not necessarily part of theirs. Hopefully, you will be able to open up some dialogue with the people who suspected it was happening, and they may treat you exactly the same after they know.
I know that you may feel differently to me - that I wanted somebody to acknowledge that things could have been dealt with better, but people react how they react.
I am very lucky to consider my parents and my sister to be my best friends - if you asked my opinion of my parents, I would, without a doubt tell you that they are amazing - which they are. I hope yours can still be amazing - the very best of luck, I hope you get what you are hoping for thanks

HoratiaWinwood Wed 30-Jan-13 22:53:21

I'm assuming that you think your family will be defensive (understandably if they didn't act when they could have) and that they will deflect perceived criticism back at you.

If you think that telling them will help you then it almost doesn't matter what their reaction is - it's what it does to you that should matter.

But in practice they will react, and however they do you will almost certainly be left with raw emotion and grief. I'm glad you have some very sensitive and loving people to help you.

achillea Wed 30-Jan-13 22:46:12

Sorry you have had a bad day. I am on my phone so message will be short and typing bad.
I wish you all the best with your brave decision. There is support here for you if you need it. Hoping others out there with more exprience will come along soon. I have ben through loss of several family members so know about the strong feelings attached with that. Life goes on after the impossible.
Big hugs and thanks

CailinDana Mon 28-Jan-13 19:00:34

If you feel the time is right and that it'll help then I say go for it. It sounds like your counsellor is on the ball which is great, he'll be very important in helping you to deal with it.

For me dealing with my mother's reaction was a really complicated process. I was surprised at how freeing it was overall. It did open a massive can of worms for me though, a can I'm still picking through bit by bit. I still feel surges of massive anger about it at times but on the whole it no longer has the influence on me that it once did, which is great.

Of course you could get a positive response. I can't even imagine that situation, which is pretty sad I suppose.

chipsahoy Mon 28-Jan-13 18:51:57

I think so,
It keeps getting in the way of my recovery. Both me and my counsellor agree on that. It keeps coming back to what a secret it is. It still feels so shameful and embarrassing and I feel they helped breed those feelings in me. By keeping it in I feel I'm staying as a victim.
I have been with my counsellor 7months now and I'm aware I still have a lot of the past to face and so is he, but I'm not sure why this feels necessary now, it just does.
I'm a wreck in some ways but more stable than I've ever been. I know this is going to be so very hard. I'm terrified, but sure it's what I need to do and want to do, to enable me to move on.

Thank you for being frank, everyone tells me it'll be fine and my parents will be supportive because they can't imagine that any one wouldn't be. It's refreshing to hear that someone gets it.

CailinDana Mon 28-Jan-13 18:43:40

I really feel for you chips, this is a very tough step to take. Does your counsellor agree that you should do it? Looking back I think trying to talk to my mother was a good thing, as it finally made me realise how utterly useless she was, but it was also devastating took me a long time to get over. In some ways her reaction (or lack of reaction) is worse than the abuse - it's more of a personal hurt and betrayal.

From what you say about your family knowing something was wrong and pretending otherwise I'm guessing that their reaction is not going to be great. Are you ready for that?

chipsahoy Mon 28-Jan-13 18:40:49

Thanks smile

I'm telling them I was sexually abused.
It's more about them than ignorance, they knew something was going on but they pretended otherwise, not because they are horrible people but because they couldn't cope with it, they were embarrassed and ashamed.
I want them to know what it really was, I want to stop pretending that I feel ok going "home" to visit them when it causes me nightmares, anxiety and panic.

I do have some support, my DH, brother, minister and my counsellor. I'm just afraid I suppose.

You know, the worst thing is, that once it's out and they know, there's no going back to pretending things didn't happen. I have no choice but to face it

It's all very scary, life changing stuff.

Allinonebucket Mon 28-Jan-13 13:56:14

If you fear that their reaction might hurt, out of their innocent ignorance, you could send them a link to a relevant book or website, or charity, and suggest they read up a bit about whatever the issue is, so that they will be aware of how to support you?

If you think their reaction might hurt because they just won't be willing or capable of supporting you, then be as prepared for this as you can be, and get some other help ready to cope with whatever feelings you might go through. It sounds like you are doing that already with your brother, your counselling, etc.

Good luck.

BiscuitMillionaire Mon 28-Jan-13 13:50:24

My heart goes out to you chipsahoy.

Maybe the dread before doing it will be worse than the actual sending it and seeing what response you get.

Everyone deserves to be loved, respected and heard, including you.

If you don't get the response you're hoping for, then with the support of your counsellor, you'll handle it.

mirry2 Mon 28-Jan-13 13:44:25

What's the secret?

chipsahoy Mon 28-Jan-13 13:39:54

Cailin, that sounds very much like my mother. It's good to hear that you feel better for telling. You were brave to tell and it gives me encouragement.

I'm a mess today, I feel horrible. Tears just won't stop. I feel like I'm grieving.

Thank you all for your responses

Fianccetto Mon 28-Jan-13 08:12:23

I think this kind of thing is better said in person. Also, just because they try to deny it happened, or react in an unhelpful way does not mean they do not love you. It just means they are like you. You needed counselling to get to where you are, and so they might have to go through a similar process to get onto the same page. So by all means send the letter but be prepared for more work ahead while they go through a process of acceptance of what happened.

CailinDana Mon 28-Jan-13 08:01:43

Painful as it was, facing up to the fact that my family were never going to support me properly was actually hugely healing for me. It was horrible to realise that my mother (I didn't tell my father) just wouldn't help me in any way, but deep down I knew that was the case anyway and bringing it out in the open meant I could acknowledge it once and for all and just move on and stop wasting my time with them. Rather than banging my head on a brick wall hoping they would suddenly become supportive I was able to move on and find support elsewhere. I didn't realise how much I had invested in trying to change them - I had wasted years of my life trying to make things with them different. I dreaded losing my family, the way you do, but in fact all I was losing was the illusion of a family - they are very very good at appearing to be a great, loving family but when it comes down to it they just want things to go smoothly at all times and will just ignore anything that doesn't fit with their idea of "normal" and "easy." I lost nothing. I gained a lot, mainly the ability to free myself from them, move on and build my own life that doesn't include their shit.

There is still a lot of sadness in me about it, of course, but life now is far better than it ever was when I was supposedly part of the family. If they did suddenly change and become the family I want them to be, I would welcome them with open arms but I know they won't so I'm not holding out for it.

achillea Mon 28-Jan-13 00:54:18

Even if the truth hurts, it will be for the better if it is out in the open. You seem to be prepared to face this and I respect and admire you for it. I am glad you have the support of your brother, that will be very helpful for the family as a whole if there is consensus between you. It is less likely that they will brush it under the carpet.

This could be the beginning of something very good. It is quite possible that all the discord going on in the past will be settled when everyone knows why it's been happening. I wish you well, keep us posted.

Living with lies can be incredibly destructive.

NippyDrips Sun 27-Jan-13 19:35:30

Hopefully they will see all of that when they read your letter and be supportive. They will probably be sorry that you didn't tell them sooner and wish they had been there when you needed them.

If not then at least you can go forward without it hanging over you. Slowly you can deal with their reaction and put the pieces together again with no doubt and secrets.

Again I wish you good luck, you are incredibly brave to face your demons.

chipsahoy Sun 27-Jan-13 18:29:36

Thank you.

Yes, it will be in letter format, i've been drafting it this week. one of my brother's knows and he's been a wonderful support.

It's just the unknown I suppose. I know if their reaction is bad, then they don't deserve me, but I love them and I don't want to lose them or any other of my (huge) family.
I've been through enough, I'm not sure I can handle further loss. I just can't see a way forward without them knowing. The lies and excuses I make not to visit, the fact that they think I rebelled and I was horrible to them, the fact that they blame me, when I was innocent.

NippyDrips Sun 27-Jan-13 18:23:40

Would it help to write it in a letter to them. Then you can say everything you want to say without being interupted or dismissed. You can also make several drafts until you are happy with it.

Good luck with it all.

DioneTheDiabolist Sun 27-Jan-13 18:23:22

Do you have any siblings? Could they help?

Lueji Sun 27-Jan-13 18:19:59

Maybe tell them first about the effects of what happened and how you feel now, and then tell them why?

Lueji Sun 27-Jan-13 18:18:40

If they love you they will believe and support you.
If they don't believe or support you, then you know they don't deserve you and you better walk away.

Hugs and good luck with the revelation.

atallskinnylatte Sun 27-Jan-13 18:10:26

keeping something to yourself for so long and carrying that weight can have serious effects physically and mentally, as Im sure you know. I know because i am doing it.
Well the positive is, if you are not ready, you dont have to, you are in control. Perhaps when you are ready you will know and sharing with us and having that encouragement is a starting point?
You CAN however do it..

chipsahoy Sun 27-Jan-13 18:01:10

I didn't know where to post this, may be it is better in mental health, I do not know.
I posted here because it's about the relationship between me and my parents and the potential end of it soon.
I have to tell them something huge, massive and it will change things. My fears are complicated, complex, but not unfounded. There is a very good chance that they won't take it well, that they will blame me, or minimise it, or brush it under the carpet out of embarrassment and shame as they did all those years ago.

I am in counselling, trying to deal with my past, I feel I can't move forward until I start living the truth. I've spent years pretending what happened to me wasn't real, while it was happening and ever since. I've finally admitted it to myself and a handful of people. I need it out in the open, I need my parents to be aware how hard it is for me to visit my home town, so they can stop pressuring me.

I am so very afraid, I don't know if I have the courage to do this.

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